As we have been reporting, the negotiations between the BSCFA and BSI/ASR are stalled – again. It has become clear that within the association there is a division. Past members of the negotiating team that had headed the discussions with BSI/ASR were put in the back seat as Ezekiel Cansino and the branch directors took over the negotiations.

 

These members however have not only been observing the progress of the negotiations but a few have been very vocal about their disapproval of the terms the directors have agreed to. Today, it’s another waiting period for BSI’s response after the association has made amendments to the latest draft. The company’s position according to the past members of the negotiating team is one that is all too familiar. Ex member and Chairman of the Finance Committee Lucario Javier Queme voiced his opinion on the matter.


Screen_Shot_2014-12-24_at_6.02.48_PMLucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“These are clauses that has been, up to the last draft that has been sent to the BSCFA this evening, is still in there in different words but it is still in there, so we can see that the pattern in which BSI has been negotiating with us when I was a part of the team, is still the same and the farmers thought that we were the ones that were not conceding enough for BSI, that is the way I understand it.”


Queme is of the view that by folding to BSI’s terms, the association has given the company the opportunity of bringing back a clause that had been dealt with and rejected. Yet, it wasn’t the sole decision of the branch directors. Farmers voted in favor of the new agreement at a general assembly. It was all legal and valid but Queme says farmers were caught in the middle of political ploys and misguided.


Lucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“The farmers were involved in different agendas by different people at that AGM and one of them was the political agenda, the second issue in dispute that day was a revenge and that came out of one same persons involve in one of the branches that suffered a reduction in the amount of premium that they would be getting with the approval been done through the scope instead of the production by the whole branch this time so there was revenge in the agenda that was approved or distorted the move of the cane farmers that day to approve whatever was going to be approve that day, the political agenda is not disregarded, there has been some director that had openly showed their support of what the government has recommended that is the best that we can get for the farmers, personally I don’t think so, I think that we should not ever submit or concede the ownership of our cane.”


Queme says that he therefore supports the petition made by some of the branch directors in returning to the general assembly for a revision of the terms of the agreement. As we have mentioned before, that petition was discussed with the directors who voice their opinion. The matter however has not been disregarded in its entirety says Queme.

 

Lucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“What I understood is that they didn’t had the quorum to make any decision because half of the committee of management members were not present and they can’t make an official decision so that is why they postpone it for a late date and that is what I understand but I hope that during the weekend and by the 29th we will have something more clear. I think that we should have or give an opportunity to the general assembly for a second chance to evaluate the truthfulness, the good faith of BSI because the evidence during this week with the communication back and forth with the draft show otherwise so I think the general membership need to have that opportunity for a second chance to evaluate what they had approved before.”


And while the ex-members of the negotiating team and some branch directors are pushing for another meeting with farmers, there is that underlining question - How much do farmers understand about the agreement? Queme says he believes they don’t understand much of it, especially the long term implications of such an agreement.


Lucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“I had repeatedly made the example that if we agree to concede the ownership of our cane on delivery, you are conceding the ownership of your product before you even get a first payment for it, one week before, secondly you agree for a seven year period of the agreement and that you are conceding the ownership or the property of that product even for the ones on the field for the next seven years. There is a company with the intension to open a plant in the north to produce ethanol and electricity so whatever the details might be is no so much importance right now but the importance is that the potential opportunities in the coming years, we are just disregarding that because we will be able to take opportunity of that we are committing our production for the next seven years so even if the opportunity is there we will not be able to sell it to any other company. We can’t disregard the immediate need of the farmers and the immediate need of the farmers is food on their tables, I understand that, but what is the benefit of having a good Christmas this year, well that was the hope right to have a good Christmas because it was the thought that we would finish the agreement before Christmas and have some income from the cane before Christmas and condemning the future income for the following years to come so what is the benefit of it, none so I rather sacrifice right now and give the benefit for my sons and grandsons to harvest the sacrifices we will are making presently.”


So that is where the ex-members of the negotiating team stand and Queme says they stand firm in their position and seek the best interest of the farmers.


Lucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“As an ex member of the negotiating team, the general membership has the right for a second chance to evaluate what they approved at the AGM.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“There are other members of the negotiating team that share your same sentiments?”


Lucario Javier Queme - Ex member of negotiating team/Chairman of Finance Committee


“Yes, of course, I can speak for them and I know that we have been together on the side because after the last AGM that the general membership approved, that the 18 directors would be heading the negotiations we are still together and riding on the side following the procedures of what has been happening and I can say that Mr. Diodoro Novelo, Mr. Ramon Cervantes and myself and the CEO and the Chemist that is an outsider that is not a director that is still there.”


Queme also pointed out that there is no need to keep delaying the start of the crop since the Sugar Act empowers the SICB to declare the start of the crop without needing to close negotiations between the association and the company. Queme says he has himself pointed this out to the Prime Minister in past meetings with the PM and the BSCFA.

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